Climate Giving: Carbon where it counts
I’m off to COP24 in Katowice, Poland this week. It’ll probably suck. I expect a lot of dejected faces, since we’re doing so terribly on the climate front (see here,here, and here). I expect pointless ranting and political dodgeball. I expect righteous anger without direction, and false promises to make the lack of commitment to ambition. It’ll also be cold.
Fear not, gentle reader! The best defense is a good offense, and the best tonic is giving and action.
A number of friends and family have asked me what they can do to help the cause of climate change. They’ve asked in part because recent media reports have done a good job explaining just how dire and daunting the work is. There’s much one can do. Here’s three quick ways to help you focus your activity in the holiday season:
1 of 3: Charitable donations
Even a little helps these groups, and it is approaching the end of the tax year. Charitable, deductible donations could help these three groups that I consider to be very good at what they do:
Env. Defense Fund (EDF): Vanguard environmental group. Pragmatic. Focused on science and action. Audacious — just announced their own space program (satellites that monitor methane emissions). Main page here, make a one-time gift here.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC): Very effective — they buy lands to preserve the natural world, including whole habitats for whole species and ecosystem preservation. Good track record, works well with local business and stakeholders of all kind. Main page here, make a one-time gift here
Carbon180: The only NGO dedicated to removing CO2 from the air and oceans. An “all of the above” approach including technology, natural systems, and political advocacy. Scrappy, effective, super cool. Main page here, make a one-time donation here.
2 of 3: Personal Actions and un-emitting
It bears repeating: the most important thing you can do as a private citizen and actor is to vote for someone who cares about climate change and working to fix it. Voting matters greatly. I discuss this more in the third post. However, many of you wish to take personal actions and responsibility for reducing your greenhouse gas emissions and CO2 footprint. Here’s a few specific things you can do:
Commuting: If you can reduce your commute or take public transit or telecommute, do it. For many of you, this is a large part of your C footprint. Every 12,000 miles is one metric ton of CO2 for a car with 30 MPG.
Flying: The same is true for cars as for planes: 12,000 miles economy flight is 1 metric ton CO2. If you can reduce your air travel, that helps.
Meat: Production of meat, especially beef and pork, releases large amounts of CO2, methane and often results in deforestation. Less is more.
Un-emitting your emissions: I’ve had the good fortune of working with a CO2 removal company called Climeworks: For a fee, these guys will take CO2 from the air and mineralize it underground in Iceland. They’ve started a crowdsourcing campaign that you can join to do the same. If you want to know you have undone the emissions from your driving, flying, or anything else, you can buy that service. Main page here, purchase “insets” here, and more about their work here.
3 of 3: Organizing and reorganizing
If you want to do more than just be virtuous yourself, or if you’re willing to take more dramatic action, there’s plenty of ways you can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases.
Political action: Voting for leaders (local, state, and Federal) who care about climate remains the most important act you can do. You can also help others vote for these people, and you can help candidates and elected officials directly. This is a force multiplier on your personal vote.
Talk about this: Climate change is a party foul: a downer, a conversation killer. Tough patooties. If we’re gonna make progress on this, you need to talk about it. If you see something, say something. Engage your book club, your church, your friends. Sponsor a lecture from a local climate expert. Even better, become one with the help of the Union of Concerned Scientists here.
Structural changes at home: Always start with efficiency. If you have poor insulation in your home, or a crappy old roof, or old and inefficient appliances, heating systems, and air-conditioners, this is the best and biggest way to make a different (and save money).
If you are in a region with a lot of sun, consider solar power. If you don’t or can’t spend the money up front for this, many utilities and services will lease your roof and pay you a monthly fee for the privilege. Increasingly, there are companies that will offer community solar services to which you can subscribe.
You can also buy a dramatically more fuel-efficient car, a hydrogen car, or an electric vehicle. This costs a bit, and mostly pays Detroit. However, if you drive a lot this can help a lot (or you can un-emit: see the second section above). Some states provide incentives and rebates, notably CA (some of this ends Dec. 31 2018).
In short, a little time or a little money can make a different without upending your world. The work of reducing emissions is immensely important. It’s good if you can do your part, and if you can serve as a model for your family, community, and colleagues.
PS: I’ll be blogging, tweeting, and posting from COP24. When I return, I’ll post a bit about the landscape and sensibilities. Then back to our regularly scheduled program.